5 Ways to Stay Motivated as a Freelancer
February 11th, 2015
Written by: Dave Walsh
February 11th, 2015
Written by: Dave Walsh
When you don’t have a supervisor breathing down your neck, and you’re at home with a computer console just three feet away from you, it can be hard to find the motivation to get on with your work.
Thoughts of ‘Well I guess I can leave this stuff till later,’ enter your head and ‘I just need to relax a little bit first’. Then when you look down a game controller is somehow in your hands and when you look up at the clock it’s 8 o’clock in the evening.
Let’s see how we can fix this.
If you’re working from home it can be really hard to motivate yourself to work. You become achingly aware of how slow the clock is moving. You get bored more quickly. Cabin fever starts setting in.
One solution is to find a co-working space near you where other freelancers rent desks. This helps separate your work life from your home life, and there’s the added benefit of socialising with like minded people and maybe even getting some help on your projects.
If getting an office is not an option for you, dedicate a space in your home as your office. The number one rule I would say about working from home is: DON’T make your bedroom your office. The lines between work and relaxing will become a dysfunctional blur and it won’t end well.
Find a space in your home (near a window preferably) and set yourself up with a decent desk and high quality office chair. You can optimise the space around you by putting storage solutions on to the wall. Keep anything distracting like televisions and computer game consoles as far away from that space as you can. This is also a chance to have some fun and personalise the space to your personality and interests.
Want some inspiration? Office Snapshots is a great site to browse photos of amazing looking office spaces around the world.
As a freelancer, one of the benefits is that you can set your own hours. Although it can be tempting start working at ‘whatever time I wake up’, I don’t recommend this approach. I’ve done this in the past and tried to compensate by working later in the day if I woke up late, but this leads to an unbalanced quality of life and terrible sleep patterns.
Set a time for when you ideally want to start working and when you want to stop working and stick to it. Set times for your lunch break and also some periodic short breaks during the day to get away from your computer and stretch your legs a bit. Once you clock off, avoid the temptation to check your emails or do anything work related so that you can relax properly.
Just so it doesn’t feel completely like a 9-5 situation, you can mix up your week by only working on client projects from Monday to Friday morning, and then spend Friday afternoon on a personal project.
Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioural economics, has found in his studies that people have two hours in the day when their mind is at its sharpest. For most people, this is the first two hours of waking up, but it might be different for you. He highly recommends that you use these two hours to work on things that require the most cognitive capacity if you want to get the most our of your day. He did an AMA on Reddit a few months ago where he talks about this and other fascinating things he’s learnt about time management.
So, find your golden hours and commit your most difficult tasks into this two hour time slot. Avoid any distractions (such as email and social media) and push any smaller tasks to a different time of the day.
Put aside 10 minutes in the evening to plan what you’re going to do the next day. You don’t need to assign what time you’re going to dedicate to each one, just make a list of tasks. Put a star next to the tasks which are high priority, or you can put them in ascending order of importance if you prefer that. A great online tool to do this with is Trello, which is essentially a bunch of virtual sticky notes on a board – and it’s free!
If you have a meeting the next day, use the evening to prepare for it such as printing things out, testing hardware to make sure it works or making sure your presentation is uploaded to Dropbox. There’s nothing worse then being flustered during a client meeting because of your own disorganisation.
Is your phone pinging every 5 minutes? If you have an iPhone it may be worth going through your notification settings and turning off anything unimportant. Maybe there’s that game you downloaded last month that keeps begging you to start playing it again?
Using the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode on an iPhone can be useful as it silences any notifications and alerts you get, but keeps it logged in the notification centre for you to check later. You can even schedule your iPhone to go into ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode for a certain period of time everyday.
Stay curious and be open to that fact there will always be something new to learn. If you can fall in love with attaining new knowledge and constantly improving your skills, you’ll have something to motivate you everyday.
Please do share your ideas for staying focused and motivated below!
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